Why Stifel?

Since our college graduation, Julie and I each have been employed by only one other company prior to our careers in the financial services industry. Since originally joining J.C. Bradford & Co. (Julie in 1986 and me in 1994), we have worked in the same office, even though we've technically worked for three different firms because of acquisitions.

We have been asked numerous times over the years why we haven't gone out on our own or moved to a smaller firm. What I have always told people is that Julie and I had limited interest in the headaches and distractions of owning our own business but rather preferred to focus on what we enjoyed most – our clients.

We have also said that as long as we felt like the goals of our clients were consistent with the goals of our firm, we would stay where we were. After much thought, prayer, research, and advice from people we trust, we came to the conclusion that our clients, our staff, and we would all be better served by making this change.

Julie and I researched and visited many other investment firms and formally visited Stifel's home office in St. Louis to “kick the tires.” We also spoke with colleagues from our previous firm who now work for Stifel and determined that Stifel would be a better fit for us and our clients. Below are a few bullet points to help you better understand why we chose to join Stifel:

• Based on our client base, the way we do business, and the concerns that many of our clients have expressed about the 2008 sub-prime mortgage meltdown, we believe that Stifel is better suited for our clients. Because of Stifel's financial strength and leverage, it was able to not only navigate through the financial crisis, but to continue to grow. Working with a smaller, U.S.-based firm that is not owned by a large bank fits the nature of our business much better and is more in line with Stifel's future growth plans as well. We appreciate that Stifel does not penalize advisors who do not promote unnecessary services, nor do they incentivize our staff to promote products that clients don't need. Our belief is that if certain products and services make sense for a client, then we will offer them; but if they do not, then we will not!

• We have been working with clients since 1986, many of whom have been retired since that time and have lost spouses in recent years. Because they have been taking income over such a long period of time, many of them have account balances that are below the desired account size encouraged at the larger firms. I have always been taught that if I'd be faithful over the smaller things and treat people like I wanted to be treated, then I would be blessed. Julie and I have always attempted to follow this principle, and we can't imagine asking a widow who needs our help to move her account to a call center after working with her and her family for 25-30 years. Stifel leaves those decisions to the advisor. It doesn't even have a call center – each Stifel client is served directly by his or her trusted advisor.

• The trading platform for managed accounts at Stifel is outstanding. Stifel offers two financial planning software programs and, based on our analysis, much more efficient technology in general.

• Stifel is home to one of the nation's largest equity research groups with 121 analysts and more than 1,600 companies under coverage. In addition, Stifel has ranked in the top ten of the Thomson Reuters StarMine Analyst Awards for 12 consecutive years (including firms acquired by Stifel). See www.stifel.com/research for more information.

• In making this change, we searched for a non-Wall Street firm with more traditional values that was large enough to have a wide range of client services and products but without all the “big bank” bureaucracy. The firm culture at Stifel is very similar to the culture we loved when we worked at J.C. Bradford. Herman Stifel, the company's namesake, established a theme long ago that is still at the forefront of Stifel's leadership – “safeguarding the money of others as if it were your own.” This theme is consistent with our hearts and is another reason we believe Stifel is a great fit for our team and for you, our client. We think you will agree!

Call or come see us with any questions that you have, and once again, thank you for allowing us to serve you!

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